Darshan Mitwa

When the shopkeeper saw an Income-tax officer, alongwith his four subordinates, coming in his shop; he at once stood up from his padded seat and set right his spectacles also. He welcomed them with his folded-hands and hurriedly cleaned the chairs with his own ‘dhoti’ (cloth worn round the waist to cover the lower body). As soon as they sat on the chairs, juice and cashew-nuts were offered to them. After the shopkeeper’s hospitality, the officer authoritatively took the ledger-books regarding accounts and go through them for just a formality. He stared at one page and got astonished to notice it. He started smiling and showed that page to his subordinates also. They also smiled and said it’s very strange that he had even entered a single account of dog’s meal to save his income-tax. The entry in the ledger was “Dog’s meal Rs. 50/-, dated: 12-05-89” when they were smiling after seeing that entry, the shopkeeper also joined with them. When they went away, the shopkeeper opened his ledger again. He entered the total expenditure of juice and cashew-nuts of that day and wrote in it, “Dogs meal Rs. 105/- dated 29-05-89.”


Shyam Sunder Aggarwal
Seth ji, please give me something, my child is hungry !“
The young lady was begging with a child in her lap.
“Who is the father of this child? Why do you bear children if you cann’t
nourish them,” Seth said irritatingly.
Lady remained mum. He saw her from head to foot. Her clothes were dirty and torn but her body was attractive and beautiful.
He asked her, “Would you work in my godown? You will get food as well as money.”
Lady looked at the Seth but did not utter anything.
“Speakout?you will get lot of money.”
“Seth ji ! what is your name ?“
“Name! Why are you asking my name ?“
‘When I will beg for my second child, people will ask his father’s name what will I say then !“
Now Seth was speechless!



The old man's wrinkled face was wet with tears. He told Ajai that his
sick wife had died and entreated him to take back the unused medicines
and injections.
Ajai looks towards me. As he was engaged only yesterday, he is unable
to excercise his own discretion in several matters. I am glad that he
is cautious. I go to help him. A glance is enough for me to identify
the shop's spurious material at once.
"Sorry, baba," I say. "Things once sold are not taken back. If you
like, I can exchange these with other medicines."
The old man entreats again for compassion and looks up expectantly.
Ajai's eyes also seem to support the old man's cause.
"Haven't I already told you? Now go. Let us do our work."
The old man quietly leaves the shop with his head bowed down.
"Sir, his wife has expired. It is possible that he is in dire need of
money." My behavior apparently displeases Ajai.
"Ajai, you seem to think a great deal." I softly say to him. "If we
begin to think as you do, we will have to big good-bye to
He gets busy taking out medicines from the cartons for the customers.
I castigate over his circumstances. He gets a job here after a long
spell of unemployment. His wife, a T.B. patient, is lying in the
hospital. I feel he will soon adapt himself to my way of working. I
get back to my chair.
One customer is insisting to have a cash memo from Ajai.
"Look please! The cash memos are at present under print," says Ajai
as instructed by me.
"In that case, you make out a receipt on a plain paper and put your
stamp on it." The customer is adamant in his demand.
"Don't waste our time." I get up and snatch away the medicines from
his hand. "Buy the medicines from wherever you feel satisfied."
"Sir," peering into my eyes, Ajai asks as soon as the customer leaves
the shop, "do we sell spurious medicines?"
"Look, you have started thinking again." Offering attractive
incentives, I affably tell him, "you will get, over and above your
slary, 20% of the sales effected through you. Our daily sale has
considerably improved as a result of your good salesmanship and
business tact. I hold hard working people in very high esteem."
"I will not be able to do this work." These icy words of his,
omitting 'Sir' in addressing me, pierced my ears for the first time.
"You ...should at least think of your ailing wife..." I say. I,
however, feel confounded at my weak and faltering words.
He picks up his Tiffin box and without even a look in my direction
walks out of the shop with determined steps.
My perplexed eyes keep following his departing figure. I see
customers crowing along the counter again, Ajai's face does not stop
hovering before me. I shake my head to dispel the hallucination and
begin to pick up the medicines. I soon become drenched with
perspiration. The mixed stink of sweat and medicines befouls my brain.
I feel sunken in bewilderment. I had never before felt such an
offensive stench.



With eyes set on the road he was languidly walking along with short
steps. I, too had to down to keep pace with him.
"Bhai Sahab, let us rest for two minutes," he said as he paused near
the culvert.
"Yes, yes! of course!" said I.
"I get tired very soon. I feel as if there is no life in my body," he
muttered. He then lighted a cigarette.
Early morning strollers raised their eyebrows as they saw him
smoking. Some army men went past us on the double.
"I used to watch you running like these army men," he said. "It is
now because of me that you have stopped running."
"No, no you are wrong," I hurriedly said, not allowing him to say
anything more. "I really like your company very much."
He looked at me pensively. His beard showed a noticeable growth. His
eyes reflected acute helplessness. We had become each other's
companions when I was having a stroll in the Gandhi Park four days
sgo. What cruel jokes life plays with some people!. He had been
crushed down by calamities befalling one after the other.
We had resumed our stroll. He continued talking in the same depressed mood.
"I am feeling a bit tired," I lied to him after a little while.
"You tired? so soon? I am not tired," he said spiritedly.
"Still....do sit down for two minutes....for my sake."
"Why not....why not?" It was the first time in those four days that a
faint smile of self-confidence appeared on his lips.
He did not smoke this time, but, instead, resorted to deep breathing,
filling his lungs each time with fresh air. When, after a brief
repose, we resumed our stroll, there was no trace of languor in his



"Say what you will, ill gotten wealth does not lead to prosperity",
said Ratan. "Only such people thrive these days."
"I can prove my point. Take for instance Dr. Chandra of the District
hospital. He made a lot of money by poor patients, and, today, he is
rotting in the Lunatic Asylum.
"This could as well be a coincidence," retorted Ratan peevishly.
"Surely, you have not forgotten Naresh's business partner, Nagraja.
How by defrauding Naresh he acquired property is known to everyone.
Today, he is mourning the loss of his sons..."
Mahendra was going on and on in the same vein. But, before Ratan's
eyes the events of a certain day at the time of the partition of India
into Bharat and Pakistan began to flash back. That day when
unprecedented acts of violence were being perpetrated, he had shut up
his neighbour , pandit Ramnath, in a room and stealing the golden
bells of his temple , had escaped to Hindustan. Poor Ramnath who was
locked up in a room and could not therefore run for his life had been
done to death. His present sound economic condition was due to the
gold stolen from the pundit's temple.
"As far as I know, I have seen people who accumulated wealth by foul
means utterly ruined,"said Mahendra as he concluded his argument.
Ratan had in the mean time gulped three full mugs of beer. He felt
that Mahendrs was intentionally carrying on that unpleasant topic.
"Stop yapping." he suddenly burst out.
Mahendra wondered at Ratan's outburst and looked queerly into his
friend's eyes.
"It appears that you have drunk a bit too much...come, let us have
our dinner." The shining brass buttons on the sleeve of his coat
clinked as. Mahendra rose from his chair. It seemed to Ratan that
Mahendra was teasing him by producing that clinking sound.
"You bastard!....Ringing bells, are you?" He screamed and landed a
stunning blow on the jaw of his friend. As he did that he himself lost
balance and crashed down, carrying the table and the glassware on it
with him as he fell. But the bells kept on ringing in his ears.




The big boss was looking tired when he came back home from the head
office. The Lady of the house felt surprised when the Orderly brought
in a Two-in-one and a pressure cooker along with the Sahab's
"Whose is all this?" She asked her husband.
"Whose else?....The chief's!" he was plainly annoyed as he uttered
those words." As I was about to leave after the meeting,he said, "My
Two-in-one and the pressure Cooker have been out of order for quite
some time.There is a good shop in your town. Send them back after
getting the faults removed."
"Our tape recorder has also been in need of repair since long. Don't
foget to send it along with these things," said she..."O,yes, I now
remember; be strict with Ram Khilawan...he has started stealing."
"What has he done?"
"I went to Virmani Store today. There I casually mentioned that we
had been charged excessively for the repair of our mixy. I was told
that Ram Khilawan got a few rupees added in the bill."
A moment Later, the peon, Ram Khilawan, returned from the grinding
mill with the flour.
"Ram Khilawan", shrieked the boss, "Since when have you been stealing?"
"I haven't understood you, Sir," he said without any sign of perturbation.
"Virmani was telling that you made him add a few rupees in the bill
related to that tube light."
"O, that?" said Ram Khilawan. "That day in the evening you had given
me the mixy to get it repaired.
The store was closed. I took the mixy home. Sir, my wife is quite a
sharp-witted person. She asked me' what it is, whose it is' and so on.
I had to tell her all...yes, all. After that...nobody could stop her.
She came down on me like an avalanche, saying, who knows what and how
many things acquired at goverment cost are taken home by the officers.
She insisted that she too wanted a stone slab and a stone pestle. Sir,
it was to meet the cost of these two things that I got a few rupees
added to the cost of repair of your mixy." After a brief pause during
which he cast a defiant look, first at his boss and then at the mem
sahab, Ram Khilawan assertively said, "Would that be called
"You have started talking glibly. Go and do your work." This time the
boss's voice sounded hollow.


"Congratulations!" Said the tall mirror.
"Thanks, but you....?" He checked himself from what he was about to say.
"Your novel has won a prestigious award today...., but still you are
not happy."
"No, no!......I am very happy. It's a lucky day for us today. My work
has been rewarded, and my wife has been sworn in as a minister."
"Then why are you so off colour?"
"What nonsense are you talking?" he said in a sharp tone. "There will
be a party at our place today. We will feed the poor of the whole city
as well. This is how we celebrate a happy event."
"You are hiding something," Said the mirror with the faint appearance
of a ironical smile on its lips. "May I....remind you of something?"
"Start barking," he growled.
"Today, in the morning, when you saw your son and your servant,
Chhotu, sitting together on the sofa, each feeding the other with his
hand, you had flared up in a fiery rage. Chhotu's cheeks still bear
the print of your fingers."
"Rubbish!" He laughed mirthlessly. "Can such a small matter make one
sad? Now stop yapping. I have an awful lot to do...; guests will start
coming any time."
"Chhotu!..........Ramdeen!" Starting at the mirror, he cried. "Take
the mirror away this instant and dump it in the storeroom. Put my
enlarged photograph up here instead to create a decorative effect.
This must be done before the guests begin to arrive.